The penetrable opening into virtue comes only through the way.
The way is something that is both profound and absurd.
Being profound and absurd gives it shape.
Being absurd and profound gives it materiality.
Being sublime and dark gives it its essence.
Its essence is real and believable.
Naturally it came to the ancients and its name hasn’t escaped us.
It is still experienced by everyone.
What is it that I know and everyone else can experience?
It is this.
Carve out a cup to make it whole,
Make the crooked become straight,
Make the deep pool become overflowing,
By so doing, the cultivated person embraces oneness and is a model for all.
It isn’t normally seen, therefore it’s radiant.
It isn’t normally present, so it’s obvious.
It isn’t normally put down, therefore it’s worthy of merit.
It isn’t normally deserving of sympathy, so it can be enduring.
He doesn’t struggle so he has no one under heaven to struggle with.
The ancients called this,“Carving out a cup to make it whole.”
Are these just hollow words?
Return to sincerity to become whole.
Saying little is natural.
A gusting wind does not last all morning,
A pounding rain does not last all day.
What causes this?
Heaven and earth.
If heaven and earth can’t last forever, how can man?
So follow this and you follow the way.
A man of the way follows the way.
A man of virtue follows virtue.
A man of failure follows his losses.
By following the way you’ll happily find it.
By practicing virtue you’ll happily become virtuous.
By following your losses you happily become a failure.
Without faith, how can faith be sufficient?
On your toes you cannot stand firmly,
Taking strides you cannot step,
Self-display is not enlightening,
Self-righteousness is not demonstrative,
Self-criticism is without merit,
Self-pity is not enduring.
In regard to the Way it is said that a surplus of food creates hatred,
So, a man of the way does not dwell on things.
Something was formed from chaos
Before eeaven and earth came about.
Still and deserted,
It still stands yet is has not changed,
Going cautiously although there is no danger,
It is able to become the mother of the world.
I don’t know its name,
Its child is called the way.
It became strong and its name is called greatness.
Greatness is called passing away.
Passing away it is called far.
Far away it is called opposite.
Hence, the way is great.
Heaven is great,
Earth is great,
Man is also great.
The region’s center has four greatnesses,
Man dwells in only one.
Man’s law is earth’s.
Earth’s law is heaven’s
Heaven’s law is the way’s.
The way’s law is nature.
Gravity is the essence of lightness,
Tranquility is the master of impetuousness,
So at the end of the day, the master doesn’t leave with his covered wagon full and heavy.
Although the kingdom is displayed in its glory,
It is over-managed, however.
There are ten thousand masters and their multiplying
Yet they belittle the people.
Lightness then loses its essence,
Impetuousness then loses its master.
Great walks leave no cart tracks,
Great words are flawless and without blame,
Great numbers cannot be counted using bamboo strips,
Great locking doors don’t close with bolts and yet the doors cannot be reopened.
Great knots are without the rope binding and yet they cannot be untied.
Therefore, a cultivated person is good at saving others.
Hence, he doesn’t abandon anyone.
The highest virtue is saving things.
Hence things are not abandoned.
This is considered an attack on our understanding.
So a good man is a bad man’s teacher.
A bad man is a good man’s resource.
A teacher without high esteem is an unappreciated resource.
Although knowledge is a source of great confusion,
It is considered wonderfully subtle.
Know the masculine but guard the feminine,
Become like a mountain stream for the world,
By being a mountain stream to the world, you will always be virtuous and never depart,
You will return to being like an infant.
Know the pure but guard the disgraced,
Become a valley for the world,
By being a valley for the world, you will always be virtuous and consequently always have enough.
Return to simplicity,
Simple like a bowl that a sage uses,
It is long-lasting.
Hence, great control should do no harm.
Do you desire the world you see but cannot have?
The world is a sacred vessel,
It cannot be obtained.
It cannot be grasped,
You will only be defeated if you try to grasp it as it will be lost.
Therefore, the cultivated one does not act and so is not ruined
Without grasping, there is no loss.
Sometimes we lead and sometimes we follow,
Sometimes we breathe hard and sometimes we breathe easily,
Sometimes we are strong and sometimes we are weak,
Sometimes we take things in and sometimes we turn things over.
Therefore, a sage abandons pleasures,
In accordance with the way, while assisting officials,
Military force should not be recommended in dealing with the affairs of the world.
Following the divisions of soldiers, thorns grow,
When an army returns, unlucky years follow.
Virtue comes from not daring to use force,
Don’t be esteemed,
Don’t be boastful,
Don’t be arrogant,
Don’t be proud,
Don’t be powerful.
Strength fails with age,
This is not the way,
Without the way things come to an early end.